Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Chemistry

First Advisor

Kristen L. Murphy

Committee Members

Anja Blecking, Arsenio A. Pacheco, Jorge Woehl, Scott Lewis

Keywords

Affect, Chemistry, Gateway Courses, Persistence, Social Cognitive Theory, STEM

Abstract

STEM persistence has been an important issue, especially in the context of underrepresented groups based on race and gender. Researchers in the last decade or so have been examining the powerful impact that affective and cognitive factors can exert individually on performance and persistence. It is only reasonable to hypothesize that combining affective and cognitive measures would offer a more thorough understanding of factors that impact students’ performance and STEM persistence. Evaluating these outcomes in the context of gateway courses is particularly essential due to the non-negligible percentage of students who drop out of these courses or decide to change their intended STEM majors after key testing events.

Using social cognitive career theory (SCCT) as a framework, this exploratory study set out to develop / adapt surveys to capture two key SCCT constructs – self-efficacy (SE) and outcome expectations (OE). These surveys were psychometrically tested and used in the development of cross-sectional predictive performance and persistence models for general chemistry. Items from both full-length surveys were subsequently used in the development of a shortened survey, which was administered as key points during a semester to evaluate changes in performance, SE or OE prior to or after testing events. Interventions, packaged as study tools, were also administered to students before these events; the impact of these study tools on students’ SE, OE and performance was also assessed in efforts to assemble preliminary profiles for at-risk students.

Available for download on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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